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Blue Grama Grass 

There are many homesteading-related projects I want to move forward with but I'm holding back because I need to wait until I find out what the state of my finances will be for the next year or so.  Right now I'm living off of money from salary continuance from my university during a three-month sick leave.  After those three months, the money stops unless I get approved for payout from my long term disability insurance and/or federal disability.  I'm in the midst of applying for both.

Saltbush

Just yesterday I faxed in the application for long term disability insurance.  I don't know how long that process takes but I would imagine at least a month and a half, since they tell you to apply half way through your three-month sick leave.The federal process is even longer and most people are turned down the first time. It can take several years if you have to go through the appeals process.

I don't want to spend any money unnecessarily until I find out about one or the other of these sources of income.  This isn't much of a problem when it comes to restraining myself from buying things like new clothes and non-essential household goods, but I'm having a harder time restraining myself when it comes to making investments for the future.  For example, I want to start gathering materials (some of which I'd have to buy) and building a chicken coop, but I don't want to spend any money on that project because I need spend my money only on bare essentials such as rent and my car and food and wood for the wood stove, until I know if money will be coming in in the future. Chickens would eventually provide food but to get that food I'd first have to make an investment in building them a home and feeding them, and then the investment would pay off slowly over time.

Really, people applying for disability are screwed, so to speak.  To apply and be considered for federal disability, you must either not be working, or working to such a limited extent that you make less than something like $1200 a month.  But as I mentioned, the application process takes a long time.  Apart from the time it takes for them to process the form, you have to add the amount of time it takes you to put together the application.  The information they ask for is extensive--including the dates of all doctors' visits, the names and dosages of all medications, the dates of all employment and rates of pay for the last fifteen years, the specific activities required in each position, and so forth.  For someone who is disabled, gathering and recording that information can be a very time-extensive process.  So the whole time you put together your application and wait for them to process it, you either aren't earning any money or are earning a very limited amount.  

Blue Grama Grass

That's....very difficult.  Before we moved to New Mexico, I was the head of household and the only wage earner.  I was supporting myself, my disabled mother, and my teen aged, living-at-home-while-attending-community-college son.  I made just enough each month to pay my basic bills such as the mortgage, the electricity, water and sewage, and food.  I didn't make enough to make payments on my own student loans, even though my child is now old enough to be attending college.  

I knew if I left my job, I wouldn't be able to keep the whole thing going, but I didn't have a choice.  For the last several years, I worked through the pain because I knew we needed my income.  I reached the point where I couldn't do it anymore, even though I knew the consequences could be dire.  I knew it meant leaving my house, possibly having it go into foreclosure, and having bad credit for a number of years.  I knew it might mean I'd end up essentially living on public land, in a tent (with my mother), moving from one area another, eating a lot of beans and rice.  I accepted that as a real possibility, which meant imagining it as a day to day way of existing.  

Projecting myself into that possible way of living required me to confront some deeply engrained fears related to insecurity of housing, food, health insurance, transportation, clothing, social status, etc.  A strange thing happened in that process.  Confronting those fears was liberating.  I reflected on the things that made my happy, that gave me joy, and made me feel fulfilled, and I realized that many of those things could not only be achieved if I were to dramatically reduce my so-called standard of living, they could be better achieved.  

I'm now living in a rental house in a very different part of the country.  Many of the material things that were part of my daily life just six months ago are now gone:  my house, shed, and yard; my washer and dryer; my dishwasher; central heating; delivery food; my microwave; unlimited access to electricity to power my printer, router, and computer; streaming of unlimited music and videos; super high speed Internet; Thai and Vietnamese restaurants just up the street; an expense account for books, travel, and office supplies; a daily printed newspaper; an answering machine; shoes with heels and boxes and boxes of fancy work clothes;  grocery stores and big box home stores within half an hour of my house; my garden; my office; two couches, three beds, and hundreds of books; and six out of seven of my filing cabinets.

My fears did not go away.  I'm still really worried about what will happen to me, my mother, and my pets if my disability applications are turned down, since I can't imagine a job I'd be able to work.  But I feel much freer, happier, and more true to my self now.  

There are things I'd like to be doing that would enhance the quality of my life, things that I can't afford to do right now.  For example, in addition to chickens, I'd like to get a goat or two for milk and cheese, invest in some materials to grow vegetables year round, and even adopt an abused/neglected horse to ride for exercise (http://www.wncr.org/).  I know of people who find regular riding helps with their stiffness and muscle pain.  And I'd like to put aside some money and buy a piece of land of my own, somewhere in the mountains of New Mexico or Colorado, so that I could invest in developing the land in a way that I'm reluctant to do in a rental.  

 

What if my disability applications are turned down?  I'm trying not to think much about that at this point because there's really nothing I can do now if that does happen.  M. has said he'll get another job to help us get by in that case.  But I don't want to count on  that happening; jobs aren't plentiful these days., and I want him to have time to focus on the things he wants to be doing with his time.  But facing my previous fears and making the major changes that I already have has taught me a lot about what I'm capable of adapting to and what I need in order to be living a happy life.  

Juniper Berries

So what should I be doing right now, while I wait to find out about my disability applications?  I guess that depends on what I want to do ultimately.  I want to have a homestead of my own, with trees and water, rocks, a garden and animals, somewhere in the Southwestern part of the country.  Since I can't afford to do anything that costs money, I need to look into other things I can be doing to move me forward, such as educating myself about the projects I want to take on, finding out more about the areas where I want to homestead, acquiring skills and knowledge, learning about lost-cost resources relevant to the projects I want to take on, and building relationships, etc.  I also need to be mindful to be present now, rather than focusing solely on some possible future experiences on an ideal homestead, to focus on where I am today, on the moment to moment things that I am experiencing, and to develop my capacity to appreciate them.  

Views: 115

Tags: Mexico, New, Southwest, finances, happiness, health, homesteading

Comment by Aliza Ess on December 5, 2012 at 7:40pm

Best of luck! The good think about the homesteading community is that it's a lot of work but the cheapest way to live, and perhaps you can barter or trade with people for needed goods or support.

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